Shooting off your mouth and shooting at a rhino

03 Feb

photo: John and Karen Hollingsworth, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Steve Dykes & J. Treml

Not too many things will get you despised so much as paying for the privilege to shoot an iconic and endangered species with a history of being hunted to the brink of extinction. Although, venting some adrenalin after making a game winning play in a championship football game might get you close.

All week, Richard Sherman has been played up as the ‘villain’ opposing NFL’s perennial ‘hero’, Peyton Manning (See Amy Davidson’s New Yorker piece). Why? Because he managed to be the right guy, in the right place, saying the wrong thing in his post-game interview. Pumped up from an incredible defensive play blocking a pass to Michael Crabtree, he spoke with Interviewer, Erin Andrews’, after the game. Perhaps spoke isn’t the right term – he had just stung like a bee and was still floating like a butterfly. He shouted out “…When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me!”

Andrews icy reply, ‘who’s been talking about you?’ and strategic film clipping cemented the moment as viral getting Sherman labeled as a ‘thug’ in the media.

Richard Sherman’s post-game interview:

Forget the fact that Sherman’s actually a well-spoken, well-educated role model. He’s a loud mouthed, trash-talking, take-no-prisoners corner back: Let’s call him a ‘thug’.

Despite the bluster, Sherman said to Davidson, in her New Yorker piece, about his academic / sports career, “I know the jock stereotype—cool guy, walking around with your friends, not caring about school, not caring about anything. I hate that stereotype. I want to destroy it. I want to kill it.” Kill it he did, going from Compton, to a 4.2 GPA in high school to a standout student athlete at Stanford and now a champion NFL star.

Perhaps Sherman isn’t what he was made out by the media to be. But the same could not be said about hunting a black rhino, right?

What I want to say is that the rhino hunt is exactly the same: another sheep in wolf’s clothing. But I find this to be a less clear story. My immediate feeling is revulsion that anyone could condone such a thing, but there is a deeper story here as well.

Texas hunter, Corey Knowlton, recently bid $350,000 for the chance to be the one to hunt and kill a ~2,500 lb black rhinoceros. His opportunity came when the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off a permit to hunt one of Namibia’s rhinos.

When I first heard about this auction, I had the predictable reaction, ‘What kind of monsters are these people?’ I wasn’t far from equating this with buying a safari pass to Dr. Moreau’s island. And, because that was all the information I had, I was completely falling the media’s manipulation of the story.

What I didn’t know was that this was, in fact, a necessary culling exercise required to stabilize the population. It wasn’t until I later realized when reading the safari club’s news release that I got a more clear story (when, actually, my wife got the straight dope from somewhere else and I just followed up). Either way, to quote the release, “At the request of wildlife biologists and the Republic of Namibia, the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) has agreed to auction a permit to hunt one of the country’s 1,700-plus black rhinos—with all proceeds earmarked for rhino research, habitat and anti-poaching efforts in Namibia.”

I went to the Save The Rhino Trust for clarification. From there, I learned that this was a program controlled by the government. As reports….

“We have been confronted by individuals and organisations who express their dissatisfaction about the programme… They sometimes think that we do things randomly,” said Deputy Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta.

[The director of the DSC, Ben] Carter defended the hunt in a press release last week in which he insisted that it will help increase the size of the herd by removing an old “post-breeding” male which is “known to kill younger bulls, cows and even calves.”

In fact, Namibia’s control over the rhinos and poaching is remarkably successful. Since 2006 only ten rhinos has been poached in Namibia, compared to  “nearly a thousand killed in [South Africa in] 2012.”

I still find it difficult to see the DSC and Mr. Knowlton in as bright a light as I do Mr. Sherman, but I can at least see the story as part of a much larger, more respectable process.

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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


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